Jonathan Vaughters’ interview with Bicycling had this interesting section about anti-doping efforts:
Vaughters called for better anti-doping enforcement. I ask what he meant by that.
“Money,” he says. Money funds better testing, and research for better tests, so that anti-doping authorities can keep up with advances in cheating.
Even though teams do fund most anti-doping, they’re resistant to paying more, too. But to hear Vaughters tell it, the obstacle isn’t the cost alone, or even the specter that with more testing comes more positives and, in the short term, more pain.
The problem is trust.
“When I go to the other team managers and say we should put in more money, I almost get spit in the face,” he says. “They’re like, ‘Fuck that. Why would I put in more money to an organization that only seeks to hurt my team?’”
Well, if that is the problem, then I honestly don’t understand why the teams haven’t solved it yet. This is how to do it.
- So you don’t trust the UCI? That’s fine, do it yourself.
- Over the past few years, several teams have had an internal anti-doping program.
- Ironically, teams with an internal anti-doping program can make a better biological passport profile than the UCI can, if they want to (and don’t have the program just for PR or worse). You see, such teams have their own test results AND the UCI test results. So they have more data points than the UCI and hence a tighter profile.
- Take this idea but use it across all teams and organize it centrally.
- Start a Rider Anti Doping Institute – Cyclists As Leaders (RADICAL). This institute can be owned by the riders and the teams, or some foundation, whatever construction teams and riders trust (so not the UCI according to Vaughters). It doesn’t matter.
- Have the teams put money into RADICAL, the money they would be willing to spend extra on anti-doping if only they trusted the UCI.
- If the teams are smart, they will understand the amount doesn’t matter for their budget. As long as they are all putting it in, it will come off of the only variable they really have: rider salaries.
- Nowadays WorldTour teams pay a 120,000 Euro fee for the Biological Passport (somehow this sounds low, but it’s in this UCI bulletin). As most WorldTour budgets are 10-20M Euro, that’s nothing. The fee paid to RADICAL could slowly increase from 200k to 1M per year.
- You’d have a total of around 30 teams participating (WorldTour and those ProConti teams who want to race a Monument)
- When you have a 6M Euro fund for anti-doping measurements (already much more than the current bio pass budget, and the two together makes close to 10M), increasing to 30M+ (an insane amount).
- Now you can really do some research to keep up with the dopers. You can also increase the frequency of testing which makes the passport more effective. It may not prevent somebody doping, but it does reduce the level of doping and therefore the effectiveness, making the playing field more level.
- Teams should also agree to a few simple measures to make sure their money goes as far as possible. For example, ban training camps in faraway places. If all teams agree, it affects everybody equally so it won’t make a real difference, and you avoid people training on Sicily or Tenerife who can either not be tested at all or only at great cost.
I am sure there are reasons why people say this won’t work, but why not think about reasons it will work?Let me know your thoughts? To be continued, so subscribe to this blog if you don’t want to miss it.